Sylvia Fischer
( –2023)


As remembered by Fannie Theresa Rushing
April 1, 2023

On this, the second saddest day of my life my friend, confidant, and collaborator for more than 60 years, Sylvia Fischer died peacefully at 104 years old. She survived Cancer, a stroke and Covid. We hoped she would go on forever. For most of those years, we talked on the phone at least twice a day, saw each other at meetings two or three times a month, and always went to hear live music. If you knew me, at some point you knew Sylvia.

James Forman and Sylvia Fischer taught elementary school together here in Hyde Park. Even though it was Hyde Park, at the time Jim was the only Black teacher and at lunch time he sat alone until Sylvia decided to sit with him. They became friends from that day forward.

When Jim decided to go to Fayette County, Tennessee to work on early voter registration projects, he asked his friend Sylvia Fischer and her husband Charlie Fischer to help support the efforts by opening their home at 1316 E. Madison Park to workers from Fayette County to raise money for their project. It was a tradition Sylvia carried on for any number of social justice organizations for the rest of her life.

When Jim went South to become the executive secretary of SNCC, he turned to his old friends , the Fischer's to form the Chicago Area Friends of SNCC. It was there that the food drives for Mississippi, the Freedom Singers tours of Chicago, the Dick Gregory concerts were held, the Chicago School Boycotts were organized, and where almost everyone who came from the South stayed at one time or another.

Sylvia picked up the freedom plough and never looked back or put it down. What a warrior for justice and a true ally! Her rest is well deserved.

There is a deep hole in my heart and an unfillable vacuum in my life. A minister said at a funeral I went to last week that grief is the price we pay for love. The deeper the love — the deeper the grief.

The family has said there are no arrangements at this time, and that there will be a memorial in the future. Out of respect for the family, the Chicago SNCC History Project that Sylvia co-founded with me in 2003, will wait to plan a memorial to honor the life of Sylvia Fischer as soon as possible.

Good night, Sylvia,


As remembered by Freddie Greene Biddle
April 1, 2023

Thanks, Fannie. It is very interesting how different people began activity in movement. Jim was great in how he saw everybody being able to contribute.


As remembered by Gwendolyn Robinson see Zoharah Simmons
April 3, 2023

Dear Fannie,

Thank you for the beautiful testimonial to Sylvia Fischer. I had the pleasure of hanging out with the two of you in Chicago some years ago. I know how close you two were.

I'm sending my condolences for the loss of your dear friend. I also celebrate the life of Sylvia Fischer along with you and her friends and family!

Sylvia Fischer, ¡Presente! 😍 💗


As remembered by Dorothy Zellner
April 3, 2023

Fannie, thank you so much for the beautiful testimony not only to Sylvia but to the friendship the two of you enjoyed. These decades-long relationships are unbelievably meaningful and can't really be replicated. The only thing that seems to help is keeping the memories as vivid (and as talked about) as possible.

Condolences and support to you,


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